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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Opinion: India Prepares for a Two-Front War

March 2, 2010

By DAN BLUMENTHAL
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
March 1, 2010

There is one country responding to China's
military build-up and aggressiveness with some
muscle of its own. No, it is not the United
States, the superpower ostensibly responsible for
maintaining peace and security in Asia. Rather,
it is India, whose military is currently refining
a "two-front war" doctrine to fend off Pakistan and China simultaneously.

Defending against Pakistan isn't anything new,
and Delhi has long viewed China with suspicion.
But in recent years India has been forced to
think more seriously about an actual armed
conflict with its northern neighbor. Last year
Beijing started a rhetorical clash over the Dalai
Lama's and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's
visits to Arunachal Pradesh state, which China
claims as its own. In the two years before that,
Chinese border incursions into India almost
doubled. Not to mention China's massive military
buildup and concerted push for a blue-water navy.

In response, the Indian military is rewriting its
so-called "Cold Start" doctrine. Cold Start's
initial intent was to provide the armed forces
with more rapid and flexible response options to
Pakistani aggression. The Indian military
believed that its ground forces' slow and
lumbering mobilization after the 2001 terrorist
attacks on its parliament played to Pakistan's
advantage: International opinion turned against
decisive Indian military action. Delhi also
worried that its plan to send in heavy forces to
weaken Pakistan was unrealistic and might well trigger a nuclear response.

So Indian strategists searched for military
solutions that would avoid a nuclear response but
still provide a rapid retaliatory punch into
Pakistan. The resulting doctrine was built around
eight division-sized "integrated battle groups"—a
combination of mobile ground forces backed by air
power and tied together through an advanced
system of sensors and reconnaissance
capabilities. The Indian Army would advance into
Pakistan and hold territory to use as leverage to
end terrorist attacks launched from Pakistani soil.

But as China has grown more aggressive, Delhi has
begun planning to fight a "two-front war" in case
China and Pakistan ally against India. Army Chief
of Staff General Deepak Kapoor recently outlined
the strategy: Both "fronts"—the northeastern one
with China and northwestern one with
Pakistan—would receive equal attention. If
attacked by Pakistan and China, India will use
its new integrated battle groups to deal quick
decisive blows against both simultaneously.

The two-front strategy's ambitions go even
further: In the long term China is the real focus
for Indian strategists. According to local
newspapers, Gen. Kapoor told a defense seminar
late last year that India's forces will "have to
substantially enhance their strategic reach and
out-of-area capabilities to protect India's
geopolitical interests stretching from the
[Persian] Gulf to Malacca Strait" and "to protect
our island territories" and assist "the littoral
states in the Indian Ocean Region."

Of course the existence of a new doctrine does
not make it an operational reality. But a cursory
glance at India's acquisition patterns and
strategic moves gives every indication that India
is well on its way to implementation. Delhi is
buying and deploying sophisticated command,
control, communications, computers, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance networks;
supersonic cruise missiles; lightweight towed
artillery pieces; and new fighter aircraft with
supporting electronic warfare and refueling
platforms. India has already bought C-130J
aircraft from the U.S. for rapid force
deployment. The navy is planning to expand its
submarine fleet, to acquire three aircraft
carriers, and to deploy them with modernized
carrier-based fighter aircraft. In addition India
plans to deploy fighters and unmanned aerial
vehicles at upgraded bases on the Andaman and
Nicobar islands in the eastern Indian Ocean.

India is not looking for a fight with China: It
simply understands it is prudent to develop a
military that can deter Beijing. President
Obama's accommodating stance toward China and his
apparent lack of interest in cementing
partnership with Delhi have focused Indian minds,
as have his failure to invest in resources his Pacific commanders need.

While America has a strong interest in sharing
the burdens of checking China's expansionism, it
should be concerned when its friends react in
part to a perception of American weakness and
Chinese strength. Ultimately, the U.S. is the
only country with the power and resources to
reassure its allies they need not engage in
costly arms races with China. But first the U.S.
must identify Chinese military power for what
Asian allies know it to be: a threat to peace in Asia.

Mr. Blumenthal is a resident fellow at the
American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
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